Lefu's story

By Gaothajying Her
April 9, 2018
One day as I was sitting in my rondaval, looking at the people who were passing by my host mother’s tiny shop, I saw that my host sister was talking to a boy.

I had seen her talk to countless of guys who would come by the shop to buy things, but with this boy, she was standing closer to than usual, and was whispering and laughing. “I’ve caught her!”, chuckling to myself. As I stepped outside to confront the secretive couple, I noticed that the boy was responding in slurred tones. After asking my host sister who the boy was, I realized that he was actually deaf. My host sister was standing closer to him so that he could read her lips.

Soon after, with the help of my local friend I began to learn that Lefu was born able to hear, but due to a sickness where his parents could not afford to take him to the clinic, he lost his hearing as a result. I also learned that he had just finished primary school, that he was an amazing artist, loved to learn, and was not afraid to guide and watch over his families’ cows. Because he had just finished primary school, I was curious as to how he performed in school, and what he would be doing next. Sadly, I learned that due to finances, his family would not be able to send him to school. And thus began our search for resources.

Gao with Lefu's parents
Mike, Gao, Lefu and Mom

With the help of another volunteer, Mike Cady, who was assigned to help at a deaf school, we began to learn about available resources for students who are deaf. Lefu, his mom, and I were able to visit the deaf school. Lefu was able to meet other students were deaf, and testing was done to measure his hearing loss. The principal of the school began telling us the opportunities that Lefu could receive if he attended the school and the possibilities of a scholarship if we were able to provide certain documents.

After a week of running around, all the documents were finally gathered! And by that next week, we were sending Lefu to school! When I dropped him off, I was so worried that he would miss home (since this was the first time he was outside the village), that he would not fit in, but he was so excited to learn, and all the children were so welcoming, that as I left, he didn’t even show a bit of sadness. Almost three months later, he now knows how to communicate through sign language, and is as excited to learn as ever!!!!

Gao with Lefu's parents